Meet Me

Hi all! I'm a self-contained special education teacher from sunny Arizona! I teach k-3rd grade students with Down Syndrome, Developmental Delays, Cerebral Palsy and everything in between. I have a passion for organization, lists, and creating hands on activities for my learners!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Phases of Your First Year

I don't think that any amount of training can really prepare you for your first year of teaching. All of the behind the scenes, the paperwork, parents, THAT kid. I'm a preparer. I like to research every detail before I begin something. Teaching was no different for me. I scoured Pinterest for classroom ideas, spent more than I would like to admit on Teachers Pay Teachers, and read countless articles on how to survive your first year teaching. I felt prepared. I left confident.
I wasn't.
After the first week of school, I started questioning if I could handle this. So, consistent with my routine, I did more research. I found a few articles on the emotional phases that a first year teacher goes through throughout the year. They were all pretty consistent. 

1. Anticipation = Sleepless nights pinning all of the adorable activities you MUST do in your future classroom.  Imagining the enormous, life-changing, Stand and Deliver-esque impact you are going to have on every student's' life. 
2. Survival = Working 12 hours days and still prepping through lunch break. Repeating "it has to get better, right?" and "how do the other teachers make it look so easy?"
3. Disillusionment = Open House, evaluations, and the realisation that things are not going as smoothly as I imagined. Your family, friends and significant other are starting to wonder if you'll ever have time for them again. Pressure. 
4. Rejuvenation = Maybe you had a breakthrough with that stubborn kiddo who is on your mind 24/7 or maybe you just really needed that Winter Break, but it's January and YOU CAN DO THIS.  If you're smart, you spent your break getting way ahead on lesson planning. If you're smarter, you relaxed, slept and planned for the first two weeks. 
5. Reflection = The end of the year is in sight. Most of the bad memories are fading and those special, warm & fuzzy teacher moment memories are floating through your head. You're thinking back on the victories and the major flops, what you'll differently next year (oh yeah, you're coming back for more), and those precious kiddos that stuck with you all year long. 

The first year of teaching- there is nothing quite like it and you can't really explain it until you're on the other side of it. But if you care enough to read this, if you care enough to try everything you can to make your class better, you can do this. You will make it. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teacher Journal

On my last day of student teaching, my cooperating teacher gave me an ordinary spiral notebook. She glued a name tag on the front and wrote my name in her perfectly cute handwriting. She told me to keep a journal of my first year teaching. It was a darling gesture, but secretly I thought, "ain't nobody got time for that!" I packed it away in one of the many boxes I had hoarded away for my first classroom. Two months later I got my keys and had 3 full days to set up my room. I didn't know much about my kiddos yet, but I figured out how to set up the tables and put up a couple cute things. Well.... then came the first day of school. Woah. What just happened. Did I eat? Did I pee? Who knows. I saw the Journal in a pile of stuff I still hadn't organized, but I didn't pull it out. If every day was going to be like the one I just had, there is no way in heck I'm going to have time to keep a journal. Next thing I remember was it was Friday after school. I got my kids on to the bus even if they were kicking a screaming. I sat in my desk chair and looked around at the pandemonium that was my once organized and cute classroom. I started reflecting on what worked and what didn't. I knew that some seat changes needed to happen and maybe a little furniture rearranging. I got the Journal out to sketch my class. I'm a visual gal and needed to map it out. Before I knew it I was jotting down memories and thoughts of how to be better prepared for the first few days next year. (Was is bad that I was already looking forward to next year??) This simple spiral notebook with my name on the front helped me reflect on my class, my students, and my self as a teacher. It helped me feel empowered that I could make positive changes and was in control of the chaos. It helped me when I needed a little encouragement or felt like leaving myself a love note. If you don't have one, I would highly suggest investing the $2 and few minutes it takes. I plan on having one for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sensory Boxes

I would like to share a new love... Sensory Boxes! I admittedly haven't used a whole lot of sensory tools in class this year. We have a cool down kit with theraputty, a weighted blanket, a soft toy and an exercise ball, but that is about it. I have been looking for ways to add more sensory experiences to our day. We have been working on extending our time we can tolerate each of our academic centers. We started the year at 6 minutes per center MAX... not very effective for academics, but they are kinders and the transition from preschool can be hard. By the end of the first quarter we were at 10 minutes. Progress, but I knew they could do more! Towards the end of the second quarter, we could tolerate about 13 minutes. Over break I did some thinking and deciding on sensory breaks during centers, We don't have any independent centers, so I was able to put together some really fun sensory boxes without worry about kiddos dumping rice all over the place. I went to the dollar store and picked up rice, beans, feathers, marbles, army men, alphabet blocks, silly putty, tops, and other small toys. I filled up clear plastic bins with it all. I made 6 boxes (2 for each center) for about $40. The most expensive box by far was the theraputty box. I got 3 new tubs of theraputty in a variety of strengths, some bubber and silly putty.

We started using the boxes when we cam back from winter break. We do 15 minutes of work, play with the Sensory Boxes for 2 minutes, and then do 15 more minutes of work at the same center. 27 minutes per center! Now that the kiddos are getting used to the system, they are working so hard! The boxes are very motivating and give a good release. I can't wait to make more!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Morning Work

In my most humble opinion, Morning Work is essential for a few reasons:
1. Its there, ready to go, every morning... consistency is key. It is predictable and helps mornings feel a little less hectic.
2. It sets a standard of work. When Morning Mork is set on the desk BEFORE the students arrive, it sets an expectation of work immediately as the students enter the classroom. I am at school. There is work for me on my desk. I am here to work.
3. It reviews multiple skills.
4. Its a mini daily assessment.

Long story short, I love Morning Work. This is one of the sheets I use with my lower kiddos. They need some hand over hand assistance to trace purposefully:
This is one of the sheets I use with my higher kiddos . We are getting away from hand over hand with most and some can trace independently now!

Both of these (and more!) are available on my TPT site


Welcome to Kinder SPED Adventures! I am a Kindergarten (with a few 1st grade kiddos) Special Ed teacher in the Arizona desert. My students have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and we are in a self-contained class. I love my job and creating hands-on, meaningful activities for my kiddos. I'm a coffee drinkin, mom of a toddler, and an on the fly teacher! Check in for activities and organizational tips!

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